If COVID-19 is the 9/11 moment for global public health, what needs to happen next?
Interviewed by the Financial Times, Science Editor, Clive Cookson, Dr Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet Medical Journal gives a hard-hitting account of what has gone wrong (and right) with the response to the pandemic, while flagging its overlooked or still-to-be appreciated consequences. His premise is that if the 9/11 attacks changed all our lives from the perspective of state security, then COVID-19 must leave a similar legacy for the future of global public health. Dr Horton weighs-up the score cards of countries, regions, and institutions, plus the international scientific community itself. He examines the initial outbreak in China, the WHO and UN responses, developments in Italy, the UK, Germany, the USA, South Africa, New Zealand, Latin America etc.; his overriding conclusion being that history will judge us all very poorly. With the strength of international cooperation tested to the full, he expresses his frustration at no emergency assembly of the WHO yet being called. In a wide-ranging assessment, Dr Horton discusses the immediate cost to scientific journals, the pros and cons of the vaccine race, and future resurgences and lockdowns. Above all, he argues for an end to our health chances being a global postcode lottery and calls upon each of us, as individuals, to take greater responsibility for how we live and act with the virus.